On Tuesday, Representative Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, filed legislation that would legalize cannabis in Missouri and remove marijuana as a Schedule I substance.  

HB 2733 would treat cannabis similarly to tobacco and alcohol and would grant regulating authority to the Missouri Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Tobacco Control while legalizing use and possession for adults over the age of 21. It’s also the first piece of legalization legislation in Missouri to consistently refer to the plant as cannabis rather than marijuana.

One of the strengths of the bill includes automatic expungement of convictions involving cannabis, cannabis products, or cannabis paraphernalia offenses that occurred within the state of Missouri and were prosecuted under the jurisdiction of a Missouri court. But the current language of the bill doesn’t prescribe for the treatment of those who are currently incarcerated or on probation or parole for cannabis offenses.

Rep. Merideth was candid in his response to an inquiry from Greenway regarding the impact on those with convictions currently incarcerated or currently serving a probation or parole sentence. “To be completely honest, I don’t think the expungement piece in my bill is the best version I’ve seen yet, but I didn’t want to leave out the essential need to include expungement within any legalization effort. If it gets a hearing I’d want to flesh that out much more, including ensuring that all criminal charges and records for cannabis offenses are truly dismissed and expunged.”

For Merideth, the focus of this legislation is to ensure that cannabis is no longer putting Missourians in jail. “The central piece I wanted my version to focus on, that I feel has been missed by other versions, is fully decriminalizing cannabis. I’m frustrated with legalization efforts that still severely criminalize folks that either don’t get a ‘card’ or buy or sell small amounts on a black market, or even that use it underage,” Merideth explained. “A 20-year-old that gets caught with pot shouldn’t be facing a felony, period. So I sought to treat cannabis more like we treat alcohol – creating a regulated market while also not leaving out an entire segment of society that will continue to be oppressed and over-incarcerated over a fairly harmless plant.”

The bill would dictate that all qualifying applicants be granted a cannabis business license in Missouri with an application fee not to exceed $5,000, and calls for rules and regulations to be promulgated and enacted by March 1, 2024. HB 2733 would also allow for localities to restrict or impose limits on businesses and business licenses but does not allow for the restriction of cannabis for personal consumption and personal use.

Read the full bill text below.






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